41. That a person should know the measure of his gift, and always desire more, taking a better one when God wishes to give it

"Our holy fathers in former times taught us to know the measure of our gift and work by that, not making use of pretense to take more upon ourselves than we have felt. We can always desire the best, but we cannot always perform the best, for we have not yet received that grace.

"A hound that runs after the hare only because he sees other hounds running will rest when he is tired, and turn back; but if he runs because he sees the hare, he will not flag for weariness until he has it. It is just the same spiritually. If anyone has a grace, however small, and decides to stop working with it and to make himself labor at another that he does not yet have, only because he sees or hears that others are doing so, he may indeed run for a while until he is weary; and then he will turn home again: and if he is not careful he can hurt his feet with some fantasies before he gets there. But when anyone works with such grace as he has while humbly and persistently desiring more, and later feels his heart stirred to follow the grace which he has desired: he can safely run, provided he keeps humility.

"And therefore desire from God as much as you can--without moderation or discretion--of all that belongs to his love and the bliss of heaven, for whoever knows how best to desire from God shall have the most feeling of him; but work as you can, and call for his mercy on what you cannot. So it seems St. Paul said: 'Unusquisque habet donum suum a Deo, alius autem sic, alius vero sic [1 Cor. 7:7]. Item unicuique nostrum data est gratia secundum mensuram donationis Christi [Eph. 4:7]. Item divisiones gratiarum sunt; alii datur sermo sapientiae; alii sermo scientiae [1 Cor. 12:4, 8]. Item ut sciamus quae a Deo donata sunt nobis [1 Cor. 2:12].' St. Paul says that every man has his gift from God: one this way, and another that, for to every man who is to be saved grace is given according to the measure of Christ's gift; and therefore it is an advantage to know the gifts given us by God, so that we can work by them; for by those we shall be saved. For example, some shall be saved and come to blessedness by bodily actions and by works of mercy; some by great penance; some by sorrow and weeping for their sins all their lifetime; some by preaching and teaching; and some by various graces and gifts of devotion."

--Walter Hilton (d. March 24, 1396), Scala perfectionis 1, trans. John P.H. Clark and Rosemary Dorward, as The Scale of Perfection (New York: Paulist Press, 1991), pp. 111-12.


  1. Where would you place the work of HFM Prescott, The Unhurryig Chase, The Lost Fight, Son of Dust, Man on a Donkey (Ok, the last is about the Dissolution of the Monastaries under Henry VIII)?

  2. Actually, I don't know Prescott's work. Do you recommend it?

  3. I recommend her highly.

    Loyola Press has republished Son of Dust and The Man on the Donkey (in 2 volumes) I can send them to you.

  4. Thank you, I would like that very much!

  5. Vinita will pick up copies today and bring them to you.


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